Sweden currently has 11 nuclear power reactors operating, producing about a half of the country’s electricity (World Nuclear Association, 2003). In 1980, a referendum was called to examine different options for phasing out nuclear energy. It was decided to continue the operation of existing plants and to complete those under construction provided that it remained economic to do so. The anticipated time period was assumed to be for 25 years, the end of their planned operating lives. At the time, the Swedish Parliament decided against any further expansion of nuclear power with an aim of decommissioning all reactors by 2010.

There had been political manoeuvrings over the last few decades to close Barseback 1 and 2. These are several 600 MWe BWRs operating within about 30 km of Copenhagen and therefore close to the Danish border. In 1997, an agreement was forged between the various political parties to close one unit by mid-1998 and the other unit by mid-2001. In return, the remaining 10 reactors might be allowed to run for 40 years. In practice, unit one was closed in 1999 but unit 2 continues in operation.

Public opinion has been largely supportive to nuclear energy. In a 2001 poll, 75% of people gave the restriction of greenhouse gas emissions as the top environmental priority, only 10% voted for phasing out of nuclear power. On nuclear power matters in general about 76% voted for some degree of nuclear power continuation in Sweden.

Environmental quality is of very high importance in Sweden with commitments to stabilise carbon dioxide emissions at 1990 levels by 2000. A full nuclear power phase out would in fact increase carbon dioxide emissions by about 50% above the 1990 level.

With regard to waste management, there has been an intermediate level waste repository near Forsmark since 1988. For high-level waste, there is the CLAB repository at

Oskarshamn that has been operating since 1985. This is a temporary solution; the fuel will be stored under water in an underground rock repository for about 40 years. It will then be encapsulated in canisters for burial in a 500 m deep repository. Research is underway at the Aspo Hard Rock Laboratory; candidate repositories are at Oskarshamn and Osthammar, at Forsmark.

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